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MI -- Frustration and disappointment led to the Marlins pulling the trigger on a major trade with the Tigers on Monday afternoon.
About 10 minutes before Miami faced the Braves at Marlins Park, the club announced it was sending second baseman Omar Infante and right-hander Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers for a package of players that includes right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner.
The Marlins also acquired Triple-A catcher Rob Brantly and Double-A lefty Brian Flynn. To complete the trade, the Tigers and Marlins pulled off a first. They are the first teams to swap competitive balance picks in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Recently, MLB revised its rules to allow trading of competitive picks.
The Marlins entered the season with their richest payroll ever in club history, $115 million. There was tremendous buildup and excitement as the franchise moved into Marlins Park, with its retractable roof. But the team has underperformed, entering Monday with a 44-51 mark, which was 11 1/2 games behind the Nationals in the National League East.
Prospects acquired by Marlins
Jacob Turner, RHP: The key to the deal, Turner was No. 10 on MLB's Top 100 Prospects list and No. 1 on the Tigers' Top 20 at the time of the trade. He's made a total of six big league starts, with mixed results, but he still has the stuff and size of a future frontline starter. Still only 21, he was slowed this year by shoulder problems. He has a plus sinking fastball he can throw into the mid-90s that gets many a groundball out. His secondary stuff -- a curve and changeup -- is behind the heater, but it has improved. He has a good feel for pitching, especially for his age.
Rob Brantly, C: A 2012 Futures Gamer, Brantly was ranked No. 15 on the Tigers' Top 20 at the time of the trade. After hitting well in Double-A Erie, he earned a promotion up to Triple-A, where he had played 36 games. He's an offensive-minded catcher who makes contact, hits for average and doesn't strike out much. He hasn't shown much in the way of home run power. His defense continues to improve and he does a good job of controlling the running game. He still has the chance to be an every day catcher in the big leagues.
Brian Flynn, LHP: The seventh rounder in 2011 out of Wichita State has reached Double-A in his first full season. A big lefty, at 6-foot-8, he has a plus fastball that reaches the mid-90s. He complements it with a hard slider and a slower curve. His changeup is a work in progress. He has some upside and could develop into a middle-of-a-rotation type in the future.
"We're disappointed in the club's performance," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "When we made moves this winter and came out of Spring Training, I think everyone's expectations -- rightfully so -- were that we'd be in a different place today."
The Marlins started discussions with the Tigers last Friday, while the team was in Pittsburgh, after it lost two of three at the Cubs.
"The current team really is not in contention. ... In a tenuous spot, at best," Beinfest said. "I think it was time to restructure. We're not winning at the level that we want to be winning at with the current group. So let's change things up, which led us to where we are today."
The deal sends Infante back to Detroit, where he played from 2002-07 and appeared in 494 games. Infante is hitting .287 and has a .312 on-base percentage this season, with eight home runs and 33 RBIs. He has also swiped 12 bags. He signed a two-year, $8 million extension with Miami last September, and he will make $4 million in 2013.
"This is a business," Infante said. "I was prepared for it. I get frustrated with an 0-for-4 night, but not for a trade."
In 83 games with the Marlins this year, including 82 starts, Infante has registered a .982 fielding percentage, committing eight errors in 435 chances. He helped turn 72 double plays -- three shy of his career high set last season -- as the Marlins have produced an NL-best 97 twin killings entering Monday.
Sanchez, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, is making $8 million this year.
The trade removes about $8 million off the Marlins' books this year. And more deals could follow as the team re-evaluates its roster.
Indications are the team is willing to listen to offers on all of their players, except for Giancarlo Stanton. Still, it is unlikely they'd consider trading Jose Reyes, who signed a six-year, $106 million deal last December.
Emilio Bonifacio started at second base on Monday night, and Donovan Solano is also capable of playing second base.
"I don't really see this as a payroll-sensitive deal," Beinfest said. "We have a would-be free agent. We had a really good second baseman, and we thought Boni could man that, or Solano. We had some options there. We weren't dealing from an empty cupboard."
Beinfest added that more deals could come by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but that will depend on what is presented.
"If it makes sense, yeah, there could be more trades," Beinfest said. "If it doesn't make sense, then there won't be more trades. You just have to go through it. Things change daily. Things change, dynamics change, needs change from team to team. We're going to do our work."
Sanchez has spent his entire Major League career with the Marlins after the team acquired him, along with Hanley Ramirez, from Boston after the 2005 season. That blockbuster trade sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Red Sox.
Sanchez has started 132 games for the Marlins since 2006, going 44-45 with a 3.75 ERA. He threw a no-hitter on Sept. 6, 2006, against Arizona.
"It's not my first time," Sanchez said of being dealt. "I came from Boston, but that came in the offseason. Never before in the season. I know my name was in the trade lines for like three years. Today, it happened. Today is a new era for me, a new opportunity for me. I'm so proud to have been part of the Marlins for a while."
This season, Sanchez is 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. He has 110 strikeouts against 33 walks. Sanchez has 14 quality starts in 19 outings this season. Opponents are hitting .259 against him with 12 home runs in 121 innings.
"I thank the team for the opportunity they gave me, trading with Boston for me," he said. "They had a lot of patience with me. They trusted me. That's really important. I'm glad for that."
While the Marlins parted with two established big leaguers, they acquired one of the top pitching prospects in the game.
Turner, 21, is a 6-foot-5, 210-pound righty who was the ninth overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Initially, he will head to Triple-A New Orleans, but the Marlins plan on using him in the rotation this year. Exactly when has not been determined.
Sanchez's spot in the rotation is supposed to be Saturday, so the Marlins will need to name a starter by then. It could be Wade LeBlanc in the short term.
"Jacob Turner, I think is very well known throughout the game as one of the top prospects," Beinfest said. "He's pitched in the big leagues for the Tigers this year, and pitched well. We've known about him for some time, and watched him of late.
"This is a tough get. To get a Major League-ready starter is probably the toughest thing to acquire in the game. We traded some quality players to do it."
Turner has made three starts for the Tigers this year, going 1-1 with an 8.03 ERA, giving up 11 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. He earned his first win Sunday against the White Sox, when he pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up three earned runs.
The right-hander started 10 games for Triple-A Toledo, going 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA. He is a sinkerball, fastball pitcher with velocity clocked at 94 mph. He made four starts for Class A Lakeland in the Florida State League, going 1-2 with a 1.66 ERA.
Brantly, a 23-year-old, hit .311 in Double-A this year, and in 36 games at Triple-A, he's hitting .254.
The Marlins see him as a potential big league starter, and he could be called up this year.
"We feel he is big league ready," Beinfest said.
Flynn is 8-4 with a 3.71 ERA at Lakeland, and 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in one start with Double-A Erie.
Along with the three players, the Tigers sent their compensation pick between the second and third rounds of next year's First-Year Player Draft to the Marlins.
"Good players, coming and going," Beinfest said. "That's what it takes, this is a baseball deal."